A rare tick has been found in London and Strathroy, and it has gotten the conversation going when it comes to ticks and tick-borne illnesses.

The Lone Star tick is native to the southern United States and Mexico, and it’s a tick that has made its way to London and the Oakridge Animal Clinic.

“We had a client bring in a tick they found on their cat, a cat that had no travel history and is local to the Medway Creek area, and the owner brought in the tick and it was still alive when they brought it in,” says Dr. Gillian Egli, a veterinarian and owner of Oakridge Animal Clinic.

Lone Star ticks have been found from time to time in the region. They generally travel in from the south on birds, but if you are bitten by one, it can potentially have serious side effects, Egli says.

“It’s a very scary tick, it carries diseases that can be transmitted to dogs and to humans...one of the biggest problems with this tick is that it can make you develop an allergy to red meat.”

Ticks and tick-borne illnesses have been in the spotlight recently, especially those that carry Lyme Disease, which can be very debilitating to both animals and humans.

Dr. Adam Mahovlich, a veterinarian at Elgin Animal Hospital, says,  "People need to know that it’s becoming an issue in our area...We are definitely seeing more deer ticks this year, more black-legged ticks...In the past it used to be more the American dog tick.”

Mahovlich says people can protect their dogs from Lyme Disease but that’s not the case for humans, and if you have a pet that goes outdoors you should be cautious.

“Those are the animals that can bring a tick into the home and, if it falls off, that person that lives in the house are absolutely at risk of having the tick attach to them and contract Lyme Disease.”

This is also the time of year that the Middlesex-London Health Unit is out dragging for ticks, it’s a method that is used to find and track species of ticks in our area.

“We are starting to get 30-40 a day showing up at the health unit. The vast majority are dog ticks which don’t transmit Lyme Disease but we still have the black-legged tick show up through Middlesex County and the City of London,” says the health unit's Jeremy Hogeveen.

No matter what the species though Hogeveen says ticks are smart and once attached onto a human will hide on the body.

“Then they start to move into areas you aren’t going to look to often so your armpits your scalp behind your ears and the behind the knees they are smart and know how to hide quickly.”

That’s why it’s important to check your body if you’re in an area where ticks are common.

Some additional pointers from the health unit include:

  • use bug spray containing DEET
  • ticks don’t fly or jump, they attach onto legs and feet and then crawl up so you could also wear long pants for protection
  • check yourself and your kids after being in tick prone areas
  • if you find a tick, you can always bring it to the health unit for verification of the species

The health unit has more information available on its website.